Recommended by AQA's Chief Examiner for Drama and Theatre Studies in the AQA Teachers' Resource Bank for Drama and Theatre studies
Edexcel BTEC Level 4 HNC Diploma and Level 5 HND Diploma in Performing Arts (various Units)
“An absolutely essential purchase for any teacher of Dance, Drama, Performing Arts or Physical Theatre who works with students from GCSE age to adults.”
Examiner, Trinity Guildhall
“It is perfect. It is sensitive to our process, is intelligent and opens up the world of our work to questions. It allows the questions to stand for others to answer.”
This DVD is an absolutely essential purchase for any teacher of Dance, Drama, Performing Arts or Physical Theatre who works with students from GCSE age to adults. It is a valuable resource which shows dynamic companies creating, working, evaluating, planning, devising, discussing their philosophy and their practice in an exciting, visual way. But what makes these innovative resources even more remarkable is the technology behind them that enables students to not only experience the work of leading practitioners but to interact with them via the online/offline web resources.
DVD One contains 80 minutes of interviews, rehearsal demonstration and performance footage from four of the world’s most exciting and physical performance groups.
Liam Steel from Stan Won’t Dance (UK) includes fascinating sections on his approach to work, developing movement, using props and soundscapes. Sankai Juku (Japan) and Marie-Gabrielle Rotie describe their Butoh approach with mind-blowing footage of the 3D body, ways of moving, metamorphosis and using time and space. Goat Island (USA) outlines some work in progress, showing developing ideas, audience, structuring and using time and space plus some micro-lectures entitled “Generating Gesture” and “Impossible Tasks”. Finally, Forced Entertainment (UK) discuss their approaches to physicality and generating movement. All of this footage is accompanied by excerpts from dynamic professional performance work.
The second DVD in the pack is an equally valuable resource for students and teachers alike. It contains extracts from Butoh influenced workshops given by Marie-Gabrielle Rotie and physical theatre workshops given by Liam Steel. The exercises have been filmed during sessions with students and because of this, the instructions are easy to follow and use in your own classes and workshops. The exercises are aimed at encouraging students to consider and incorporate physicality into their devised work.
This DVD also includes a 20 minute performance by a talented group of AS students who have been inspired by the influences of these workshops and have devised and then perform work of strong physicality.
All sections are clearly labelled on the DVDs’ menus, allowing access to specific sections, making them easy to use in a teaching and/or learning situation, guiding the process of successful work for examination and performance. There are also printable instructions for practical exercises and a CD available containing Jpegs of cover artwork and images from the resources.
Review for Dance Matters, Examiner, Trinity Guildhall
As someone relatively new to the PGCE lecturing game, and conscious that the course I took over needed a sharp injection of practical drama sessions to prepare trainees effectively for their school practice (as well as to relieve the bums-numbing monotony of some of the more theoretical aspects of the course), I was looking round for some recent, relevant and racy drama resources for some stimulation. Fortunately, I lit upon these three titles (Creating Physical Theatre, Devising Work: The Great Deviser and Ensemble Building) from the appealingly-named Pumpkin TV, which ticked all those boxes and did more besides.
This is a series of double DVDs that is perhaps most obviously suited to the AQA AS level syllabus (particularly Unit 1: Devised Drama), but I will encourage my trainees to look at them for ideas for work across all secondary age groups too.
‘The Great Deviser’ is typical of the trio in featuring leading international drama groups including Goat Island (US), Forced Entertainment (UK), Ushio Amagatsu/Sankai Juku (Japan). We see the drama groups themselves in rehearsal and performance, but also we see them working with students, thus helping to emphasise that ‘real’ actors approach their work in the same way that students are encouraged to do in school. (That’s the inhibition hurdle down.)
The same DVD goes on to show how the different groups are inspired to get started on a new piece (hurdle two flattened) and continues by exploring how pieces are developed and honed (for example, by adding music or lighting effects). Because the three drama groups each explain their approaches to camera, and we see the effects of their choices in action, it is made clear that there are no single ‘right’ answers (hurdle three…).
In one amusing yet thought-provoking section, Forced Entertainment perform an improvised piece on the development of mankind, set against a serious spoken text on man’s great achievements. The actors are dressed in deliberately comic bearskins, presenting a picture of the rise of humans that is at odds with what is heard. It is all intriguing and inspiring: compulsive viewing.
A further great advantage to the whole package is that the DVDs contain offline and online resources to supplement the main aspects featured. In this way, learning can go on beyond the drama studio: students can go away and explore what has most interested them.
The whole package of DVDs (each as rich as ‘The Great Deviser’) have already been recommended by the chief examiner for Drama and Theatre studies in the AQA’s list of relevant resources and I will certainly be adding them to the menu for my trainees. I have a sneaking suspicion that more feet will be beating a path to the library in search of these gems than for most of the other drama resources on the reading list put together.
Review in the NATE journal Classroom, September 2008, Course Leader, Secondary English PGCE, Bath Spa University
As a GCSE drama student, I think that this DVD was well structured into sections so that I could choose which particular section of physical theatre I wanted to learn about without having to watch though them all. Each clip in one section was only three to eight minutes long with teachings from a variety of professionals.
Liam Steel from 'Stan Won't Dance' was my personal favourite to watch. The DVD includes his approach to physicality, generating and structuring movement and using props and soundscapes. Stan talked of his belief in natural movement and dance and I particularly enjoyed watching the way he taught his students to use distance and positioning between other characters to create a whole different atmosphere.
I think that in GCSE drama especially, we are told to explore physicality in our pieces to reach the higher grades, however without development of these physical features it can often lead to movement being added that has no real purpose or effect on the audience. Liam Steel taught his students the importance in the meaning of their physicality; 'The movement has to be saying something all of the time, and if not, don't put it in.'
Another section which I really enjoyed was watching San Kai Juku and Marie-Gabrielle Rotie talk about the Butoh approach to physicality. My particular favourite section was not only watching the footage of the amazing movement that was created with the Butoh influence; but also the description of 'taking the body to pieces' and then reforming it to create the alternative movement which I found entrancing to watch.
Personally I think that this DVD was incredibly helpful when teaching different ways in which you can use your body to create a character or whole new effect. I think that this DVD would be especially useful for high achieving GCSE students who are thinking about carrying on drama in the future and want a new way to push themselves and improve their performance. I have definitely learnt a lot from this DVD which I will be trying to use in the future to improve my performance and I would strongly recommend it to any other students who want to be able to improve their physicality in their pieces.
GCSE Drama student at Colstons Girls School.